A Question of Rice

By Edwina Luz D. Seduco and Cyril V. Satimbre

Filipinos used to eat only one kind of rice, brown rice. That was before the advent of machinized rice mills. Today, people prefer to eat white rice and only a few knows about brown rice.

As defined by the Asia Rice Foundation (ARF), “brown rice is unpolished whole grain rice that is produced by removing only the hull or husk using a mortar and pestle or rubber rolls.” The brown grain coating of an unpolished rice is locally known as Pinawa. Traditional processing of these rice grains involves hand pounding to remove the inedible husk or hull. The resulting product is brown rice. Meanwhile, white rice still undergoes further proccesses like polishing and whitening where the next layer called bran is also removed.

There have been extensive efforts for the promotion of brown rice. In the Philippines, the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and the Philippine Rice Research Institute (Philrice) lead the dissemination of information about brown rice in the hopes of attracting consumers into buying brown rice instead of white rice. There is also the Brown Rice Advocates group or BRADS which has their headquarters in Vega Center in Los Baños, Laguna that also campaigns for the promotion of brown rice consumption. Based on various reports, brown rice has several advantages over white or polished rice.

More healthy

The brownish coating or Pinawa of the dehusked and unpolished rice is rich in nutrients. What’s unique in this grain is that it is the only form of grain that contains vitamin E which is an important antioxidant in flushing out free radicals in the body. Reports from BRADS indicate that in the average Filipino diet, a 100g of boiled white polished rice per meal constitutes 50-80% of the energy intake among children and adults.  The complete milling process of white rice, however, destroys half of its essential nutrients such as manganese, iron, fat, calcium, phosphorus and all of the dietary fibers it contained. Thus, health experts really encourage consumers to eat brown rice.

BRAD further shared that brown rice provides the requirements for health conscious individuals and those with special dietary restrictions.  Its high fiber content is good for the digestive system while its high protein content is enough to provide the energy requirements of adults. Lastly, it is a source of antioxidants that prevent cancer because of its phytochemical content.

White vs Brown

According to the article of former UP President Emil Q. Javier published on Rice Today in 2004, most consumers in Asia prefer polished white rice over brown rice because the latter is associated with poverty with its unpolished appearance.  Ms. Abigail Faith Luistro, an anthropologist, explained that this social phenomenon maybe due to the association that was formed with what is traditional (brown rice) and modern (white rice).  According to IRRI’s official website, brown rice has a gritty texture and nutty taste. The element of taste also factors in the preference of the consumers. Because of the popularity of the white rice commercially, most people are more attuned to its refined texture.  Most of the time, it is the prevailing notions surrounding the properties and preparation of brown rice that affect the choice of most consumers and not its color.


The difference in the cooking procedures of brown rice and white rice is another factor why most consumers choose white rice. People say cooking brown rice is hard. Even Ms. Luistro states that people not familiar with the preparation of brown rice may end up with hardened cooked rice.

However, Dr. Cezar P. Mamaril, former IRRI scientist and the current consultant of the Department of Agriculture-Philippine Rice Research Institute says, “It is not harder to cook brown rice but rather it takes longer time to cook because you add more water compared when you are cooking polished rice.” When asked about the prevalence of white rice over brown rice in the market, he responded, “When you find in the market what is claimed to be brown rice and yet white rice is dominant, it is likely that it is a mixture of polished and unpolished milled rice. When it is white, that means both the hull and the bran are removed from the endosperm. When it is brown, the hull (the outer coating) is the only one removed while the bran remains with the endosperm, thus it is called unpolished rice.”

According to the report of PhilRice consultant Silvestre Andales on About Brown Rice, the publication of BRADS, 40% of the milling operations done with white rice such as whitening, polishing, shifting and blending are not necessary. Brown rice undergoes dehusking process only while white rice still undergoes whitening and polishing processes. On the dehusking process alone, the power requirement is already reduced by half in brown rice.

Because of the shortened process, the parts of a rice grain where most minerals and nutrients are stored are retained, making it more nutritious than white rice. However, because brown rice is more nutritious, it is also more prone to insect infestation. The study cited by McGaughey (1974), states that brown rice is more likely to be infested by eight species of pests than white milled rice. That makes it harder to store and that means more effort in devising methods to control these insects. The risk of pests also accounts for the shorter shelf life of brown rice.

Price Tag

The major consideration, however, is the price. Brown rice is marketed as a health food making it popular among the rich who are generally health conscious. Ms. Luistro adds, “Kasi sa movement for going healthy and organic, nagiging aware sa health benefits of unpolished rice ang mga tao” (This is due to the movement for going healthy and organic, people become aware of health benefits of unpolished rice). In the Philippines, in the effort of bringing brown rice back in the market, Dr. Emil Javier, a staunch brown rice advocate, also targeted the upper class market because of these reasons. Brown rice is admittedly sold in a higher price than white rice.

The present low demand and high cost of manually removing undehulled palay from brown rice out of small mills makes brown rice expensive, said Dr. Juliano Bienvenido, a cereal chemist in PhilRice. This low demand for brown rice is in turn caused by the apparent lack of information about it. It is therefore not a surprise when a study conducted in 2011 by Isabelita M. Pabuayon and Antonio Jesus A. Quilloy, agricultural economists at the University of the Philippines Los Baños, shows that despite the benefits of brown rice, it still comprises a very small share of the household rice basket.

Bringing Brown Back

Since the nutritional advantage of brown rice is already established, the only question that remains is how to make the public accept it? This process of promotion should not be very difficult. Consumers may be willing to give brown rice a try if a few of their concerns are answered.

A mother, Merlyn De Juan, doesn’t see a problem in eating brown rice. She told us that she used to eat brown rice in the province. However, brown rice is more expensive than white rice in Manila. She also said that it is harder to find brown rice in the markets here and so, she takes what it readily available, which is of course the white rice.  Brown rice advocates are trying to answer the price and supply concerns of the consumers by producing and selling brown rice themselves. Dr. Mamaril, a rice miller himself, is the first to produce brown rice in Los Baños and only sells it at P35. On the other hand, his price for the white rice is at P32.

BRADS sees the need of a rice mill wholly dedicated to producing brown rice. That way, it would be more readily available in the market. IRRI also does its share in promoting brown rice consumption by encouraging their employees to eat brown rice served in their cafeteria. Philrice also doesn’t tire of producing promotional materials about brown rice.

They are doing their best in information distribution in the hopes of erasing the prevailing notions about brown rice. If people are properly informed, then maybe they will be enticed to buy brown rice instead of white rice. That would increase its demand in the market and rice producers may see the potential of considering brown rice for mass consumption.

However, until these concerns are answered, brown rice advocates could only hope that consumers will discover brown rice and stick to it. This is the challenge that they face. But with the dedication that they show, a time may come that brown rice would be the norm again.

Kasalang Bayan 2013 records 94 newlywed pairs

By Dianne B. Ubaldo

“Para sa mga bagong kasal, ang aking pangaral sa inyo ay isipin ang pagpapamilya. Huwag mag-aanak ng marami kung hindi kayang pakainin,” this was the advice of Mayor Caesar Perez to the 94 couples during this year’s ‘Kasalang Bayan’ held on December 14,  5pm at the General Paciano Rizal Park at Brgy. Baybayin in Los Baños, Laguna.

All set. Kasalang Bayan organizers do a final check before the start of the wedding ceremonies.

The 94 couples who registered and attended the mass wedding were from the barangays of Anos (2 couples), Bagong Silang (1 couple), Bambang (7 couples), Batong Malake (9 couples), Bayog (14 couples), Lalakay (7 couples), Maahas (19 couples), Malinta (6 couples), Mayondon (8 couples), Putho-Tuntungin (4 couples), San Antonio (7 couples), Tadlac (3 couples), and Timugan (7 couples).

Families and friends of soon to be wed couples eagerly await the arrival of this year's Kasalang Bayan couples.

“Kinabahan ako pero ng nasa harap na kami ng altar gumaan na ang pakiramdam ko kasi kasama ko ang partner ko sa buhay” (I was nervous but when we were already in front of the altar, I felt comfortable because I’m with my partner in life), shared groom Henry Vergara.

This year’s Kasalang Bayan is a project of the Municipal Gender and Development Office together with the Los Baños Sangguniang Bayan. The marriage contracts will be available after a week.

Cooking fire burns down 3 houses in Putho-Tuntungin

by Christele J. Amoyan, Noli A. Magsambol, and Jeyneth Ann R. Mariano

Fire blazed across three houses at Purok 4 Barangay Putho-Tuntungin in Los Baños, Laguna at 11:46 am of December 12.

Brgy. Putho-Tuntungin barangay officials and the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) responded to the fire incident. Mayor Caesar Perez together with fire trucks from Brgy. Batong Malake and International Rice Research Institute Fire Brigade reported to the area to help abate the fire. The fire died down at around 12:41 pm allowing the BFP to inspect the damaged residences to determine the source of fire.

Neil B. Yonzon, 26, of Brgy. Mayondon captured the December 12 fire in Putho-Tuntungin through his camera phone.

Dec 12 Fire at Putho-Tuntungin from the los baños times on Vimeo.

The fire victims and witnesses were immediately gathered at the Putho-Tuntungin Barangay Hall by Barangay Captain Ronaldo N. Oñate and were later escorted to the BFP office in Barangay Anos at around 3 pm.

A fireman from Bureau of Fire Protection-Los Baños inspects what remains of the damaged residences from the hour-long fire in Brgy. Tuntungin-Putho.

Based on the initial investigation of the BFP in Los Baños, the fire started at the residence of Lucena Maguila. BFP initial findings indicate that the fire started from the kitchen where the cooking fire was left unattended. The reported estimated overall damage to properties is Php 370,000, including the houses of Jacinto Palomata and Clareta Bueza which are adjacent to Maguila’s residence.

“Nakita ko na lang, sunog na yung bahay namin,” said Jasmin, daughter of Jacinto Palomata. She was inside the comfort room when the fire accident took place. Fortunately, her cousin Lovely was able to warn her to immediately leave the house.

According to Maguila, she was not home when the fire broke-out because she attended a ‘siyaman’ or pasiyam at 9:30 am that day. A "pasiyam" is a traditional prayer for the dead nine days from day of death or the ninth day of the wake.

Manguila recounted, “Noong umuwi ako ng mga bandang alas onse, magluluto sana ako ng tinapa kaya lang wala palang panggatong. Lumabas na lang ako para maglaba. Pagbalik ko mga bandang alas onse ‘y medya [11:30  am] ay sunog na ang bahay ko at nadamay din yung dalawa pang katabing bahay.” 

Maguila said that this is not the first time that somebody attempted to burn her house down. She shared that the December 12 incident is the third incident of fire breaking out in her house and is by far the most destructive.

The BFP investigation is still ongoing as of press time. No serious injuries or deaths were reported from the incident.

Environment-friendly homes

By Myra G. Ramos and Ashley M. Venerable

How environment-friendly is your house?

In Quezon Province, there exists a house so green it might bring your house to shame. It uses renewable energy and other cost-effective facilities. The house was constructed by the Philippine Center for Water and Sanitation Deputy Director, Jose Carmelo Gendrano.

The Gendrano’s residence

The house is known by their neighbors for its unique shape—unlike usual house designs, their house is circular in shape.

When asked about the house’s shape, Engr. Gendrano explained that the circular shape makes it more resistant to structural stress. He calls the house a ‘ferrocement house with reusable mold.’ Its roofs have a welded rebar framing and each room has its own skylight roof that can be opened for ventilation.

‘It is also relatively cheaper than other houses since it costs P150,000 as compared to other houses which usually cost double the price,’ Engr. Gendrano added.  There is also a decreased dependency on skilled labor since ferrocement application is simple and easy.

The 42 m­­2 house is located at Brgy. Lusacan, Tiaong, Quezon Province.

Green Facilities at Home: Rain or Shine

Rainwater Collector. Saving energy and money at the same time, the house is built with a rainwater collector tank. During rainy seasons, the family has no problem getting water. Instead of consuming P8 per day, the Gendranos only pay P4 daily for their water bill since they use collected rainwater for washing their clothes and watering their plants.

Solar Water Heater. The Gendranos can also have hot bath or drink hot coffee using their solar water heater. The heater was cleverly made to provide the family with hot water during the day.

The hose looped around the roof is covered with insulators made up of used plastic bottles.  As the hose gets hot, the water that passes through it also becomes hot.

Green sanitation: From wastes to fertilizers and gas

Urine as fertilizer. Aside from the cost-effective construction and green facilities, the Gendranos also have a unique type of sanitation system—a green sanitation system. Even their toilet bowl is designed in an economic and environment-friendly way. It has a urine diversion hole attached to a hose that carries the urine to a pit.  A pail is placed in the pit to catch the urine which can be used as fertilizer afterwards.

Human sewage as a means to cook. For about P6,000, Engr. Gendrano also constructed a biogas septic tank. The biogas septic tank is a means of digesting the human sewage anaerobically (without air) to produce methane gas which is burned to bring heat. Methane gas is produced when an organic material such as sewage decomposes in an airless environment.

The septic tank, which contains the collected human sewage, produces an effluent or an outflowing of gas. The effluent goes into a baffled reactor containing several divisions where wastes are digested. It then passes to a planted gravel filter before it is infiltrated into the ground via covered trench. The gas from the septic tank is then used in cooking.

Green facilities at home: Can you do it?

Since Engr. Gendrano has the skills and the education to build great green facilities, it’s easier for him to build such green systems compared to those who don’t have the skills. However, there are other green choices you can make at home.

Collecting water from your roof and using it for washing and watering the plants is simple. Natalia Geronimo, a 68 year-old grandmother from Quezon City collects rainwater to clean her garage, too. However, solar heaters are way more complicated and the guidance of a professional is necessary. The same goes for the other green sanitation systems.

Meanwhile, Gerardo Baron, a retired engineer from the Philippine BioDigesters had constructed a Home Biogas System (HBS). However, it requires a 2.5 meter by 2.5 meter pit away from roots or trees, making the design not compatible for those in urban areas where houses are constructed together. It is also designed for piggeries, where huge manures are dumped every day. The estimated amount of HBS construction and monitoring amounts to P22,800, but with huge amount of manures per day (80 L pig manures), P1,000 amount of biogas can be produced a month.

For a greener future, there are now environment-friendly technologies, even for households. But even without such technologies, simple acts like saving and reusing water are just as green.

Project LB, launched in Brgy. Anos

By Christele Jao Amoyan, Crispin Mahrion D. Abacan, and Jarred Inzle D. Santos

The UP Los Baños (UPLB) College of Development Communication Student Council (CDCSC) launched its first community project at Barangay Anos, feeding 56 children ages 3 to 12 on December 7, 2013, Sunday afternoon.

The UPLB CDC Student council joins the children of Barangay Anos for the launch of Project LB.

The Brgy. Anos feeding program is the first activity in the CDCSC’s Project Los Baños (Project LB). According to  CDCSC Chairperson Von Carlo Yacob, Project LB is a long-term community outreach program initiated by the UPLB CDCSC AY 2013-2014 to benefit 14 barangays of Los Baños.

Two children enjoy the pancit prepared by the CDC Student Council and Barangay Anos BNS.

Yacob explained that the CDC Student Council realized that they could extend help reaching out to the Los Baños community. He emphasized that Project LB is a needs-based initiative. The activities the CDCSC will be designing and implementing in different Los Baños barangays may vary depending on each community’s identified problems or needs.

Project LB in Brgy. Anos was composed of a seminar, games, and the feeding activity. According to Nutritionist Marjohn Reglos, the resource person for the seminar, proper nutrition influences how children interact with each other. Anos Barangay Nutrition Scholar Ella Perez shared that they have been conducting feeding program since August 2013. The feeding program stopped during the recent barangay elections. “Mas active yung involvement ng community ngayon kasi kasama na yung mga nanay,” noted Perez.

Accompanying the children were the mothers, Aling Lorna Newton being one of them. Aling Lorna, 41, said that she was happy to see her children Pamela and Brylle having fun during the activity. Aling Lorna, together with Aling Sonia and Aling Cora, who attended the Project LB, wished that such activity will continue serving their community.

From L-R: Nanay Sonia Certoza, 36, Lorna Newton, 41, and Cora Colandog, 25, attend to their kids during the Project LB feeding program at Brgy. Anos

The launch of Project LB was the product of the collaboration of the CDCSC, Anos Barangay Council, Barangay Nutrition Scholars, Barangay Tanod Officials, and the volunteers.

[PR] Healthserv celebrates World Diabetes Day 2013

[PRESS RELEASE] Healthserv Los Baños Medical Center celebrated the World Diabetes Day on November 21 with diabetes patients, doctors, and hospital staff members.

The event was composed of a diabetes forum; free tests such as FBS/RBS screening, micral test, a test of protein in the urine, and HbA1c or glycosylated hemoglobin test, distribution of diabetes product samples; a raffle; and games.

Diabetes patients and Healthserv staff take part in the games during the World Diabetes Day celebration at the hospital lobby.

The activity was organized by Healthserv’s Diabetes Education Center which aims to empower patients with diabetes to actively take part in managing their disease to prevent or delay complications and improve quality of life through education. The Diabetes Education Center also wants to increase awareness about diabetes, its risk factors, and effective strategies for preventing complications associated with the disease.

It was for this reason that Healthserv organized a monthly forum series with diabetes patients and their family from August to October 2013. Endocrinology and Diabetology specialists were invited to discuss the diabetes prevention, exercises, retinopathy, and how to deal with diabetes among children and adolescents.

In addition, Healthserv also launched its Diabetes Club to serve diabetes patients better. They offer different packages such as foot care package, capillary blood Glucose monitoring, insulin administration, medical nutrition therapy, and complete diabetes package. For more information, you may contact (049) 536-4858 or (049) 536-7718 local 500.